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The OverAchiever: A guide to basic archaeology and its achievements

Allison Robert

Every Thursday, The Overachiever shows you how to work toward those sweet achievement points. This week, we start digging.

You guys remember the Dalaran fountain, right? I loved that thing. It was a wonderful, idiosyncratic little peek into the thoughts of an array of Azeroth's lore figures, both the important and the obscure. It added a number of little touches to the game's story that we never would have seen otherwise, and Blizzard even gave you an achievement for getting all the coins. I thought that whatever mad genius came up with the Dalaran fountain should have been chained to a desk at Blizzard and left there until he came up with more ideas like it.

Well, they can finally let that guy off the lead. Archaeology is kind of like the Dalaran fountain, except instead of being crammed into a tiny corner of Dalaran, it's everywhere in the world, and instead of concerning 53 people who made wishes, it affords you a peek into seven civilizations and the world's fossil record.

Pretty sweet, eh? Well, you're going to have to work for it. If you're completely new to archaeology, I've included a short set of instructions here, but otherwise, we're going to head straight for the civilizations and achievements related to WoW's newest profession.

How to search for artifacts
  1. Head to your local archaeology trainer and hit the books. You can find a list of trainers here.
  2. Trained up? Under the Professions tab in your spellbook (P is the default hotkey), you'll find two options for archaeology, both of which can be hotkeyed. One is Survey and the other is Archaeology. Put Survey somewhere convenient on your bars.
  3. Open your map and right-click until you get a continent-wide view. Once you've trained archaeology, you'll see four different dig sites (represented as little shovels) available per continent, all of which will be in level-appropriate zones. For example, if you're level 20 (the earliest level you can train archaeology), you won't see any digsites spawn in higher-level zones. The big disadvantage to training archaeology at level 80+ is that sites can spawn anywhere, so you'll be doing a lot of traveling.
  4. Head for a convenient dig site. On a zone map (e.g., Badlands itself versus Eastern Kingdoms as a whole), you should see it represented as a large red area.
  5. Once you're within the boundaries of a dig site and safely on the ground, click Survey. This will bring up the theodolite with its range sensor. It'll flash one of three colors: red, yellow, or green. Red means you're far away from the fragment you're looking for, yellow means you're getting closer, and green means you're fairly close (in beta, it meant you were within 40 yards, but I think this has been decreased since then). The theodolite also points in the direction you'll need to go.
  6. Keep clicking Survey and following the theodolite. Eventually, you won't spawn a theodolite but rather a glittering fragment. Right-click to pick it up.
  7. Each dig site will spawn three fragments. Once you're done with a site, pack up and head for another.
  8. From skill level 1 to 100, you'll get a skill point for most fragments you pick up. After 100, you'll only get skillups from completing artifacts. Regular artifacts grant 5 skill; blues will grant 15. I'm not sure what epics grant, although by the time you're finding epics, you're pretty likely to have maxed archaeology (or at least gotten close).

There are seven civilizations and a set of fossils to be discovered, so eight types of artifacts total. Brief descriptions and a few notes on each are below:
  • Draenei Draenei artifacts can only be found in Outland. In my opinion, they get the best and coolest rare artifact in the game, the Last Relic of Argus, which can teleport you to one of 20 random places in Azeroth or Outland. Too bad about the lengthy cooldown, but I think it's fun as hell.
  • Dwarf The dwarves left relics all over the Eastern Kingdoms and in a few places in Kalimdor. The Staff of Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan is apparently a best-in-slot piece for several caster specs before heroic raids, but you'll probably find the very cool Clockwork Gnome ages before that. Question: What was an Outland model staff doing in Thaurissan's hands?
  • Fossil Fossils are unique in that no help's forthcoming from supplementary items (e.g., Highborne Scrolls, Tol'vir Hieroglyphics) to help you along to a finished piece. Curiously, there are no fossils in Northrend or Outland.
  • Nerubian These can only be found in Northrend, and there tends to be a high creep factor associated with them. The Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron will attempt to drive you insane, the Gruesome Heart Box is just ... ugh, and the Infested Ruby Ring is the stuff of nightmares. There really aren't too many nerubian artifacts yet, but I hope Blizzard makes more; they're disgusting but fascinating.
  • Night Elf Night elf dig sites are all over the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Northrend, and you'll probably get sick of seeing them before long. Tyrande's Favorite Doll is actually a really useful healer trinket if you're good about using it on cooldown.
  • Orc Orcish artifacts can only be found in Outland. Interesting here is how many artifacts actually come from fairly recent orcish history (given the references to demons and Nekros Skullcrusher).
  • Tol'vir These can only be found in Uldum and will quickly become the bane of your existence if you're an alchemist on the search for the Recipe: Vial of the Sands, which are a rare spawn from canopic jars.
  • Troll Trolls, like night elves, left records of their presence in the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Northrend. Their artifacts contain a number of details that experienced players are likely to recognize -- and they're just as certain to recognize Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds. Between this and the wonderful Northern Stranglethorn quests in Zul'Gurub, are we going to see this raid make a reappearance, I wonder?
  • Vrykul Vrykul artifacts can only be found in Northrend. They have the fewest artifacts currently available, but I was surprised to see an accurate description of a scramseax pop up here.
Artifacts by continent

dwarf, night elf, troll, fossil, and tol'vir

Eastern Kingdoms dwarf, night elf, fossil, and troll

Outland orc and draenei

Northrend vrykul, nerubian, night elf, and troll

Archaeology achievements

The profession actually doesn't have too many achievements related to it yet, but the ones it does have are fun. As of now, there is no meta achievement concerned with the profession, but there are three titles linked to archaeology achievements.
  • Illustrious Grand Master in Archaeology The standard "Congratulations on maxing a profession!" achievement. It feels a bit more meaningful for archaeology, though, as getting to 525 takes quite a bit of effort.
  • Blue Streak This one isn't too difficult to get if you're flitting between the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, as all four artifacts required are dwarven. I hope I'm not spoiling anything too massive here, but it was Korl (presumably a rogue). Also, the concept of the "off tank" doesn't appear to be a new one in dwarven culture, as the dude with the shield was actually standing behind the dragon; either that or the shadow priest pulled aggro. Yes! That's it! The tank was in front of the dragon, the priest pulled aggro and died, the tank got tail-swiped, the healer ran away and fell on his own sword, and the rogue kept stabbing Kaldrigos on the way over and finally managed the kill.
  • Diggerest 100 common artifacts will take a while -- you'll almost certainly have maxed archaeology by the time you do it. On the plus side, you don't really have to make any especial effort for this achievement, because you'll be putting tons of common artifacts together on the hunt for the rares and epics.
  • I Had It in My Hand The first of three Indiana Jones quotes now used as achievements. You'll only have to put a single rare artifact together for this one, and this will usually happen around 150-200 skill (perhaps less if you're putting artifacts together as early as possible rather than just leveling by digging to 100). I still think that Blizzard missed a clear chance at some fun with a potential "Adjunct Professor" title, with NPCs programmed to /spit as you walked by.
  • What was Briefly Yours is Now Mine If you're fantastically lucky, you may get this with blue-quality artifacts before you even max archaeology, but I wouldn't count on it. Otherwise, there's just a little luck and a lot of work involved.
  • It Belongs in a Museum! If I recall correctly, this was actually rewarded for putting together all of the rare artifacts on the beta, not 20 rares/epics. There are 26 rare/epic artifacts currently available, so you'll still have to put together almost all of them to get this -- and you'll also have to be at least 450 to pull it off, as that's the earliest that you can make the epic BoA artifacts. (It's for that reason that players recommend not solving any artifacts for a race from which you want/need an epic until you reach 450 from other races.)
  • It's Always in the Last Place You Look This one's not tough, although the earliest you can possibly get it will be past 450 skill. 450 is when tol'vir dig sites will become available, and you may or may not get lucky with Kalimdor sites for a little while. If tol'vir sites don't spawn for a little bit, all you can do is keep hitting up their dwarven, night elf, and fossil counterparts until something finally spawns down in Uldum.
  • Kings Under the Mountain Another all-dwarf hit parade.
  • Seven Scepters Turns out scepters are a popular item among several races, although there are a few here that are entirely unrelated to their racial classification (e.g., draenei have a Nathrezim scepter). Of these, the Scepter of Bronzebeard is the funniest, the Scepter of the Nathrezim the most thought-provoking (how'd the draenei get their hands on this, and why did they keep it around?), and the Scepter of Charlga Razorflank the most fourth-wall breaking. Sudden thought: Is Blizzard going to introduce a random or miscellaneous classification for artifacts at some point? Will we be digging up demon weapons from the War of the Ancients or something dumped by the quillboar or centaur in The Barrens?
  • The Boy Who Would be King The achievement might be a reference to Tutankhamun -- the legendary boy-pharoah doomed to a short reign -- or even another Egyptian pharoah actually named Nynetjer. Poor kid. However, it's the little stories like this that I think make this profession so interesting.
  • The Harder They Fall Hell hath no fury like an orcish consort armed with a steak knife.
  • Tragedy in Three Acts Xicon and ArgentSun on Wowhead broke down each artifact by the folk tales and literature to which they probably refer. Judging from the references to Pyramond, he was probably a druid or perhaps even a Highborne noble. Theleste's identity, as ArgentSun observes, is rather more interesting on which to speculate, given that a few bits of information don't seem to add up.

Working on achievements? The Overachiever is here to help! Count on us for advice on Azeroth's holidays and special events, including new achievements, how to get 310% flight speed with achievement mounts, and Cataclysm reputation factions and achievements.

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